Yes, lasers are gaining widespread use in the dental world! They work by delivering energy in the form of light and can be used to cut or vaporize hard and soft tissue. Lasers are popular because they can reduce pain and anxiety experienced by patients, minimize bleeding and postoperative swelling, and serve as a means of disinfection. Currently, dental lasers are being used for a multitude of purposes, including cavity detection, tooth preparation prior to restoration, gingivectomies (crown lengthening, tissue contouring and frenectomies), cold sore reduction, nerve regeneration, tooth whitening and even the treatment of TMD.
Lasers are monochromatic, coherent, unidirectional and emitted from a stimulated active medium. In dentistry, the active medium can be a solid, gas, or semiconductor. Examples of solid state lasers include erbium-laced yttrium, aluminum and garnet (Er:YAG). CO2 lasers utilize gas as the active medium, which is sealed in an air tight chamber. Diode lasers contain semiconductors that emit laser light when stimulated with electricity.
So how can you start using lasers in your future dental practice? The first step is to attain Standard Proficiency in the use of dental lasers. This level defines the current standard of care for the dental professional. The Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) is the #1 provider of dental laser education and offers certification programs for dental providers wishing to demonstrate high standards and clinical proficiency in the use of lasers. Upon completion of the Standard Proficiency Course, providers will demonstrate knowledge in the scientific fundamentals of lasers, how to use laser equipment, safety issues and clinical guidelines.
The ALD is the largest international organization devoted to laser dentistry. Its members comprise general dentists, dental specialists and hygienists. Members of the ALD form a network of individuals who share clinical tips and techniques for laser use in everyday practice.
Ten years ago, the Dr. Eugene M Seidner Award was founded to recognize excellence in clinical research in the field of laser dentistry. Every year, the winning student is asked to present their research at the Annual ALD meeting. The scholarship covers one year of ALD membership, all conference registration fees, Standard Proficiency Dental Laser Certification Course application fees and transportation to the meeting.
Have more questions about laser dentistry? Ask Monica in the box below!
~Dr. Monica Gawlik, ALS member dentist